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Macedonia, July 2019

Skopje, Matka Canyon, ...

Contains 463 photos, the last of which were added 2 years, 10 months, 26 days, 22 hours, 42 minutes, and 13 seconds ago.

Welcome to Skopje. It's a weird and cool place. My first impression is that someone got a budget for improving the city center but they were only allowed to spend it on statues and had to use it all by the end of the month.

Photos from a drizzly run, which made a nice change from the incessant heat and direct sunlight on every other day so far.

Wandering in the sun and eating in Skopje. It's too hot, but by the river is okay. Other options for cooling down are airconditioned museums and the cinema in the mall. Ate beans and baklava in the Old Bazaar.

The 7+ hour hike from Skopje city center, over Mount Vodno, to Matka Canyon. It was a little more arduous than expected, and the trails weren't so well marked. A good portion of the route was under construction, with roads being widened by diggers and signs up to say people shouldn't walk there. There was no other way to walk though.. Circumvented the construction areas when possible.

Took a more direct option for the last stretch leading to Sveti Nikola Church, high above the canyon, which turned out to be a very challenging downward scramble that didn't let up. It was a narrow trail that was laced with spider webs and catapillars dangling from silk threads. I was completely wrapped in them by the time I made it to the church. It was a serious relief to get there and find a cool water spring and places to sit there. From Sveti Nikola down to the water was a bit less hazardous but equally webby and steep.

The Matka Canyon hotel was on the opposite bank (along with all other traces of human civilisation), and a friendly boat man gave people a free ride over. If you start on the other side, it seems, it's a 30mkd return trip.

The hotel room was in the attic; small and with no AC but with a beautiful view over the lake and surrounding cliffs. To my immense surprise the hotel restaurant also had a labelled vegan option! All quite overpriced though.

Kayaking in Matka Canyon, for about 3 hours, including a visit to possibly the deepest cave in Europe, much of which is unexplored.

And food at some random restaurants in the Canyon, built into the cliff walls.

A hike up to the Golden Cross above Matka Canyon. Back down for a swim in freezing water, welcomed into the higgledy piggeldy artist's house on the rocks by the aging hippie rocker resident and his robot butler. Then the several hour walk home through suburban Skopje, having missed the bus.

A day of ~*~cuuulture~*~ visiting the museum in the old railway station which commemorates the 1963 earthquake that destroyed much of Skopje; the Mother Teresa museum (she was born in Skopje, when it was part of Albania); the Fortress, which is free and not particularly maintained but has nice views; and the really awesome Museum of the Macedonian Struggle which.

A hike around Mt Vodno, Skopje.